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Shannon Senefeld, PhD - Catholic Relief Services. Baltimore, MD, US

Shannon Senefeld, PhD Shannon Senefeld, PhD

Senior Vice President, Overseas Operations | Catholic Relief Services


Shannon Senefeld is a global development expert. She ensures programs in health, agriculture, water and microfinance have maximum impact.







Catholic Relief Services | 100&Change: The Finalists Live Presentation Shannnon Senefeld, PsyD, Catholic Relief Services, Speaks at the Launch of Her Dignity Network Catholic Relief Services wants to eliminate orphanages-ENN 2017-08-01 Shannon Senefeld




Shannon Senefeld directs an international team of development experts that ensures the quality of CRS programs in more than 100 countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Shannon’s team includes leaders in a multitude of areas, including health, agriculture, water and microfinance.

With two decades of experience in global development, Shannon has lived and worked overseas in countries such as Haiti, Malawi, and Cameroon. Prior to assuming her current position, Shannon served as the project director for a global USAID-funded project, Coordinating Comprehensive Care for Children (4Children), where she led a team of experts to improve the lives of children affected by HIV and AIDS in a number of countries in sub-Saharan African and Asia. Part of 4Children’s work is to “deinstitutionalize” children, promoting family care over orphanages. Family care and phasing out orphanages is also the goal of Changing the Way We Care, an initiative that Shannon oversees that was a finalist in the MacArthur Foundation's first-ever "100 & Change" competition.

As a licensed clinical psychologist, Shannon specializes in child and family care. In addition to her international work, she is on the medical faculty at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore, MD. She has published and presented extensively on international children’s issues and the importance of strengthened family care for children’s development.

Shannon holds a PhD and a master’s degree in clinical psychology, as well as a master's degree in international development. In addition, she holds two bachelor degrees in French and political science.

Areas of Expertise (11)

Education Clinical Psychology Deinstitutionalization of Children Early Childhood Development Global Health Global Development Humanitarian Aid Child and Family Care Orphans and Vulnerable Children Nutrition Microfinance

Education (4)

Argosy University: PsyD, Clinical Psychology 2011

Argosy University: MA, Clinical Psychology 2009

The George Washington University: MA, International Development 2000

Indiana University: BA, Political Science, French

Affiliations (1)

  • Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital: Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Languages (2)

  • English
  • French

Recent Media Appearances (6)

The business of voluntourism: do western do-gooders actually do harm?

The Guardian  


“It’s a huge pull factor: if they can get food, health care, education, specialised services, parents make a decision they think is in the best interests of the children,” says Shannon Senefeld, senior vice president for overseas operations at Catholic Relief Services.

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What role can faith play in innovation?



“There is a long history of Catholic institutions setting up orphanages,” said Shannon Senefeld, senior vice president for overseas operations at CRS, an international humanitarian organization that was founded by Catholic bishops in 1943 and today is the international humanitarian agency of the United States Catholic Community. “We knew that if we took this on, it was not going to be easy, because we had to solve a problem within the Catholic Church as well. But everyone agreed you don’t shy away from something just because it’s hard. We have to address this problem even though it’s not easy for us institutionally.”...

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A real reality show: MacArthur grant competitors vie onstage for $100 million prize

Chicago Tribune  


Just making it this far in the process has helped the group draw attention to the issue like never before, said Shannon Senefeld, the organization’s senior vice president of overseas operations. “This has been extremely helpful in shining a spotlight,” she said during a break in the presentations...

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Most children in orphanages aren't actually orphans. This group wants to help them.

Catholic News Agency  online


"Shannon Senefeld always assumed that children in orphanages are mostly orphans. Most people make that assumption.

When Senefeld found out this was not the case, she was shocked.

In fact, the vast majority of children in orphanages around the world – between 80 and 90 percent – have at least one living parent or other family member, usually someone who loves them and wants them, Senefeld told CNA..."

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Help kids this giving season: Don’t give to orphanages

Huffington Post  


Among the many charities that will be looking for support in the coming weeks there will be plenty of orphanages, promising that your money will help poor unfortunate children overseas. Many of these pleas will come from faith-based groups. But if you really want to help children, don’t give money to orphanages...

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MacArthur Names 4 Finalists in $100 Million Grant Challenge

The Chronicle of Philanthropy  


The international aid organization Catholic Relief Services, anti-hunger group HarvestPlus, Rice University’s global-health institute, and the International Rescue Committee and Sesame Workshop, which submitted a joint proposal, are the finalists...

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